Likud Snub May Leave Barak Politically Homeless
Ehud Barak may find himself politically homeless following Vice Prime Minister Silvan Shalom’s insistence that he has no place in the Likud. Shalom serves as Vice Prime Minister.
He rejected ideas that the Likud election list for Knesset Members would reserve a place for Barak, who quit the Labor party last year and formed his own Independence party, which has drawn negligible support.
“The Likud is a democratic movement and everyone can run for election,” meaning there is no need to protect a position for Barak, Shalom told Voice of Israel government radio Tuesday morning.
Barak has survived in the Knesset by virtue of his position as Defense Minister and member of the coalition when he led the Labor party. He remained in the Cabinet after he quit the party.
His only other possibility for a political home is Kadima, which would see him as a threat to oust newly elected leader Shaul Mofaz and upset the already splintered party. Polls shows that Kadima will win only about 13 seats in the next Knesset, less than half of its current number.
Barak is not a stranger to political failure. After retiring as IDF Chief of Staff, he joined Labor, where he won the leadership and swept into power against Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in 1999.
Despite a huge coalition majority, his government collapsed after 18 months, paving the way for the Likud, led by Ariel Sharon, to win a landslide.
Barak then quit politics, said he would not return and traveled around the world as a representative for the military-industrial complex. He then changed his mind and returned to the Labor party, sparking a bitter leadership fight with Amir Peretz, whom he defeated.
After Prime Minister Netanyahu began to form the current coalition, Barak vowed he would not join, but shortly afterwards again changed his mind and became Defense Minister.